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Date published: 30 May 2014

Johnson backs ‘B’ teams plan

ATHLETIC has cautiously welcomed compromise proposals that could see top clubs entering the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

A plan for 16 B teams to be entered into a revamped competition over two years will be discussed by Football League clubs next Thursday.

As an alternative to FA chief Greg Dyke’s controversial League Three idea - slammed by Athletic - it is likely to make the competition more difficult to win.

A planned group stage could add more fixtures to an already crowded list for those clubs who reach the latter stages — as Athletic has managed in recent seasons.

Club director Barry Owen feels the involvement of Premier League clubs could enhance a competition some rival lower-league clubs feel is little more than a nuisance.

Manager Lee Johnson also sees the benefits in terms of the overall development of young players .

“It’s a decent compromise,” said Johnson, who himself dropped three divisions to get regular action at Yeovil in the Conference as a youngster.

“From a development point of view I agree with it, in giving kids experience of senior football.

“Then again as manager of a League One club I am thinking do we really need more games?

“I am all for under-21s players getting more experience of playing against men. The flip side of it is, will they be playing against full-strength opposition from Football League clubs or virtual reserve sides? There are different agendas at play in the competition sometimes.”

Johnson suggested another possibility could be to revamp the loan system, to encourage more promising players from top-flight clubs to gain experience in the Football League.

Dyke will be present at next week’s meeting, featuring all 72 Football League clubs, which Athletic chairman Simon Corney will attend.